Sunday 20 October 2019

Greek workers join general strike as end of bailout looms

Austerity measures are set to continue in Greece for another two years after the bailout ends in August.

Members of the Communist-affiliated PAME labor union gather during a rally in Athens (AP)
Members of the Communist-affiliated PAME labor union gather during a rally in Athens (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

A general strike in Greece against plans to extend austerity measures has halted ferry services to the islands and disrupted flights, public transport and other services.

The 24-hour strike called by the country’s largest unions also closed schools and left public hospitals running on emergency staff.

Government budget austerity measures are due to continue for at least two more years after the international bailout ends in August, starting with another major round of pension cuts next January.

Thousands of protesters gathered in central Athens and the country’s second largest city of Thessaloniki.

The general strike is against plans to extend austerity measures (AP)

In the capital, more than 8,000 people marched through the streets in separate demonstrations, while about 3,000 more protested in Thessaloniki.

The country’s largest union, the GSEE, said: “The government is continuing disastrous policies for society and the economy, forcing unsustainable measures onto the backs of wage-earners and retired people.

“The constant deterioration in the living standards is part of a downward trend that people (in government) chose not to see.”

Greece is currently negotiating the terms of its bailout exit with European creditors, including how its finances will be monitored and the conditions of a promised debt relief package.

A delivery worker tries to take iced coffees past a riot police cordon near the Greek Federation of Enterprises in Athens (AP)

But the talks, due to be concluded in a few weeks, have been overshadowed by the political crisis in Italy and the resulting financial turmoil.

Eurozone member Greece has relied on money from three consecutive bailouts since losing market access in 2010.

The rescue loans have been provided by other EU countries which use the euro as their currency and the International Monetary Fund, though the IMF has held off on a cash contribution towards Greece’s latest programme.

A new round of administrative and market reforms demanded by creditors is due to be voted on in parliament on June 14.

PA Media

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